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Posts from the ‘The Web’ Category

Stop SOPA/PIPA

We definitely need anti-Intellectual Property theft legislation. Just not this legislation.

See where your members of Congress stand on SOPA, and contact them.

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You Must See “Catfish”

“Catfish” is one of the greatest movies I’ve seen lately.

To begin: I love documentaries. Like many people my age, I started with Michael Moore’s flicks in high school (say what you will about his politics, but the man knows how to make a documentary interesting. His style has been copied – by liberals and conservatives alike – many times over.) Over the years, I’ve enjoyed all the “mainstream” documentaries like “Super Size Me”, “Food, Inc.”, and “Grizzly Man”, as well as docs on favorite bands like The Beatles. I go crazy over nature docs like “Planet Earth” and “Oceans”, and Ken Burns has (of course) always been a favorite (I’m working through his “National Parks” series right now). Some other recent favorites: “Jesus Camp”, “Trouble the Water”, “Inside Job” and “Exit Through The Gift Shop”, although “Exit” may or not be a real documentary, depending on what you believe. I personally believe it’s a hoax. Which leads me to “Catfish”.

Catfish

“Catfish” is presented as real. Its directors have defended it to the end (WARNING: spoilers), despite questions from other documentary directors and moviegoers at Sundance. But it’s just so bizarre that it can’t possibly be real. If these guys (directors Henry Joost and
Ariel Schulman) staged this whole thing, then they are geniuses, because it feels so natural, even as unexpected plot twists unfold. In fact, Joost and Schulman have so mastered this (faux-?)documentary form that they were brought on to direct “Paranormal Activity 3” (which was probably a major step-down for them. Bad decision.)

Basically (if it is real), Joost and Schulman are New York videographers who picked up their cameras when Schulman’s brother Nev (a photographer) began an online fling with a girl he met on Facebook. The original purpose was just to document the stages of an online relationship, but the experiment quickly devolved into much more than that.

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The Netflix Debacle

Good grief, Netflix.

I admit I was a little shocked when they raised their prices by 60% with no warning a couple of months ago. Who wasn’t? That’s a big price jump. But when I heard their reasoning and evaluated exactly what I’d still be getting for my money, I realized it was still worth it. Managing all those DVDs while securing all those film companies’ licenses has got to be pretty expensive. I resigned myself to continuing to be a supporter and happily paid my first full $16 this September.

netflix envelope

Then, this happened. I’m sure most of you have heard the “news” already, but for those who haven’t: in order to allow both sides of their business to “grow and operate independently”, Netflix is splitting into streaming-only Netflix and a separate, DVD-only company, Qwikster. The whole announcement was buried deep in a “We’re sorry, please forgive us” email from Netflix Founder and CEO Reed Hastings, amid numerous claims that this actually fixes everything and let’s all be friends again.

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“If You Want To Humble An Empire…”

I’m not going to pontificate on September 11 here – I think there was plenty of that over this weekend. Instead, I’m just pointing everyone to two related links I think are poignant and do the day justice.

1. Nancy Gibbs, who wrote the amazing TIME piece just days after the attack, describes how it came together.

2. The New York Times released this series of tapes from air traffic controllers and emergency responders before, during and after the attacks. They’re a very moving inside look at exactly how it all went down.

P.S. Also, if you get a chance, pick up TIME’s special edition for the 10-year anniversary. It’s very good, as always.

We Are Priceline Negotiators

I really wanted this to be a great story, about the trials and tribulations of getting good hotel deals online. About the fast-paced, nerve-wracking circus that is online bidding. I wanted to have a great post about trying and failing, or trying and getting the deal of the century – either, or.

It didn’t really turn out like that.

It turns out Priceline is actually way easier to use than you’d think. William Shatner’s only current claim to fame had always intrigued me with its somewhat risky concept, kind of like gambling but without the smell of smoke afterwards (unless my hotel room ends up being a smoking room).

Here are Priceline’s steps to scoring a cheap hotel:
1. Choose a class of hotel (up to 4 stars) and a location within a city.
2. Bid any amount.
3. See if the hotel accepts your bid.

priceline screen

Choosing your categories

The risky part is that you give them your credit card numbers beforehand, so if a hotel accepts your bid, you’re booked. No matter what. So you don’t ever know for sure if you’re going to get the deal you’re looking for this time around, and you never know exactly what hotel you’re booking. Therein lies the risk. But since you can narrow down your categories to a certain class of hotel and city area, you can still have a pretty good idea of what you’re likely to get.

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Turntable.fm – The Social Music Revolution

Besides Spotify, the other online music service rocking my world lately has been turntable.fm. These two web applications could not be more different, but I love them both equally. If you want an easy and fun way to discover new music while earning music cred with the internet, read on.

Spotify is great because it’s basically your iTunes library, but with every song in the world. (Except for some holdouts like the Beatles, but who cares about them, right?) You use Spotify to listen to that album you’ve been thinking about buying but aren’t sure about just yet, or to discreetly listen to that Boyz II Men album you used to love but don’t want to be caught with on your iPod, or to (if you have Premium) carry the whole world’s music with you on your phone, available for streaming whenever you want.

Turntable.fm is different. It serves two purposes:
1. Discovering new music
2. Sharing your favorite music with friends – or total strangers – in real time.

turntable

A typical turntable "room".

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